The Environmental Law Clinic (ELC) at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law has extended its field of action. And it is an impressive extension to be sure.
For the past 15 years, the ELC has represented local, state, and national environmental community groups on domestic environmental issues. Beginning this fall (2009) the ELC will maintain on its docket a project of international importance.
Working closely with the LLM program in Natural Resources and Environmental Law, the ELC has created the "Environmental Law Clinic-LLM International Scholar" program to work on the international docket. Ms. Leandra Zanqueta (prospective May 2010 LLM graduate) has been selected as the inaugural scholar.
Working under the orientation and supervision of Prof. Michael Harris, Director of the ELC, Ms. Zanqueta, who is a native of Brazil, will research and write about developing legal strategies in the international sphere regarding the impacts of mega dam projects (those higher than 15 meters or more than 3 million cubic meters) in Latin America.
The construction of dams is a priority for many Latin American countries because these projects have the potential to provide the necessary energy, drinkable water, and infrastructure to support economic development. However, the implementation of some projects is resulting not only in enormous environmental impacts, but also serious human rights violations. These violations include the forced relocation of communities, and the failure to consult affected communities and allow their participation in decision-making processes. The ELC will work with the Mexico City-based Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) to coordinate the work on this issue.
Everyone in the LLM program wishes Ms. Zanqueta and Prof. Harris great success. Congratulations on this important new venture!